Surface Engineering


Dmitry V. Shtansky

Philipp V. Kiryukhantsev-Korneev

Course Summary

Surface engineering (SE) is a sub-discipline of materials science and materials engineering which deals with the surface of a solid and its modifications. The primary goal of SE is to modify the properties of surface in order to reduce the material degradation over time or to develop material with a wide range of functional properties. The present course provides a basic knowledge in the field of plasma physics and surface engineering, both being related to the preparation, characterization, and applications of different types of coatings and surfaces. The present module is devoted to the advanced methods of coating deposition, with particular emphasis on nanostructured, nanocomposite, and multilayer coatings. Topics covered in the module but not limited are: CVD, PVD, thermal spray, laser, ion and electron treatments, pulsed arc, spark deposition, etc. Master’s course students will receive fundamental knowledge and practical skills in the field of surface characterization using diverse advanced analytical methods such as X-ray Diffraction, Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Glow-Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy, Raman-shift and IR spectroscopy. Graduate students will also gain practical skills in the use of modern equipment for surface testing, such as Nanohardness Testers, Tribometers, Scratch Testers, Dynamic Impact Tester, etc. and become familiar with the presently existing standards.

Course Format

Hours of lectureHours of discussionHours in laboratoryHours of independent studyTotal numbers of hours

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of basics of plasma, electron emission, ionization, and different types of discharges.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different methods of coating deposition, such as arc evaporation, magnetron sputtering, thermal evaporation, ion sputtering, chemical vapor deposition and plasma assisted chemical vapor deposition, electro-spark alloying, cold spray, etc.;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different methods of surface modifications, such as ion implantation, ion etching, laser treatment, selective laser sintering;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different forms and mechanisms of surface degradation due to wear, oxidation, corrosion, tribocorrosion, fatigue and creep;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different types of surface protection against wear, oxidation, and corrosion;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some basic chemical, mechanical, tribological, and biological properties of coatings;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge how to measure various surface and coating characteristics such as hardness, Young’s modulus, elastic recovery, stiffness, friction, wear, fracture toughness, thermal stability, oxidation resistance, corrosion resistance, impact resistance;
  • Demonstrate practical skills in the use of modern equipment for coating characterization, such as Nanohardness Testers, Tribometers, Scratch Testers, Dynamic Impact Tester, etc, and demonstrate knowledge of presently existing standards;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different methods of surface and coating characterization using modern analytical techniques;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of different types of coatings for mechanical engineering and medicine.

Course Content

Part I. Fundamentals of electrical gas discharge (4 hours)

  • Electrical gas discharges, as a key process in the modern coating deposition technologies:
  • Plasma, Electron emission, Ionization, Dark discharge, Normal and abnormal glow discharges (2 h)
  • Main principles and applications of different types of discharges: Arc discharges with different types of emission, Corona, spark, and barrier discharges, High-frequency discharges E- and H-types (2 h)

Part II. Deposition and surface modification methods (6 hours)

  • Physical vapor deposition: Magnetron sputtering, Ion implantation assisted magnetron sputtering, Cathode-arc evaporation, Filtered CAE, HIPIMS (2 h)
  • Chemical vapor deposition: CVD with thermal activation, PACVD, ALD (2 h)
  • Methods of surface modifications: Ion implantation, Ion etching, Laser treatment, Selective laser sintering (2 h)

Part III. Nanostructured and nanocomposite coatings (10 hours)

  • Fundamentals of nanostructured thin films: Definition of nanomaterials, Types of nanostructured coatings, Grain size, Structure of grain boundaries, Phase composition, Orientation relationships, Defect structure, Surface topography, Structure-properties relationships, Mechanisms of growth, Mechanisms of deformation, Methods of nanocoating characterization (2 h)
  • Nanostructured coatings with enhanced chemical, mechanical and tribological characteristics: Coating characteristics, Hall-Petch relationship, Classification of nanocoatings, Concept of alloying, Types of tribological contacts, Thermal stability, Oxidation resistance, Corrosion resistance, Examples (2h)
  • Nanocomposite self-lubricating coatings: Fundamentals, Friction, Wear, Types of self-lubricating coatings, Concept, Low- and high-temperature solid lubricants, Deposition and characterization methods, Examples (2h)
  • Nanocomposite coatings for medical applications: Basic definitions, Bone-implant interaction, Types of biomaterials, Wettability, Surface roughness, Generations of biomaterials, Types of biocoatings and substrate materials, Biocompatable coatings, Bioactive coatings, Antibacterial coatings, Types of biological tests, Examples (4h)

Part IV. Advanced methods of surface and coating characterization (4 hours)

  • X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy: X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, main principles, electron diffraction, possibilities and restrictions (2 h)
  • Spectroscopy: X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Auger-electron spectroscopy, Energy-dispersive spectroscopy, Glow-Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy, Raman-shift and IR spectroscopy (2h)

Part V. Advanced methods of surface and coating testing (8 hours)

  • Methods of contact and non-contact characterization of surface topography: Roughness: parameters and methods of measurements, Optical profilometry, Atomic force microscopy, Scanning probe microscopy (2 h)
  • Mechanical characterization of nanofilms: Hardness, Young’s Modulus, Elastic recovery, Modes of deformation and fracture of solids, Hertz’s model, Modern methods for mechanical contact testing (2 h)
  • Novel nanomechanical characterization techniques and standards: Uniformity of measuring mechanical and tribological properties, principles of organization and system of metrological service, State system for ensuring the uniformity of measurements in Russia and other countries (2 h)
  • Friction and wear of coatings: Historical introduction, Main definitions, Fundamental aspects of friction and wear, Description of the main wear mechanisms, Various types of tribological coatings, Equipment for tribo tests (2 h)

Reading List

Core Texts:

  1. Y.P. Raizer. Gas discharge physics. Springer-Verlag, 1991, 449 p.
  2. A. Fridman, L. Kennedy. Plasma physics and engineering. Taylor& Francis, NY, 2004
  3. Nanostructured Thin Films and Nanodispersion Strengthened Coatings, NATO Science Series, edited by A.A. Voevodin, D.V. Shtansky, E.A. Levashov, J.J. Moore, Vol. 155, 2004.
  4. Stout K.J. Development of methods for the characterization of roughness in three dimensions. Penton Press. London. 2000.
  5. Whitehouse D. Surfaces and their measurement. Elsevier, 2004.
  6. R. Bassani, Tribology, Pisa University Press, 2013.

Secondary Texts:

  1. D.M. Mattox. The foundations of vacuum coating technology. Noyes Publications, 2003, 151 p.
  2. Biomedical Nanostructures, edited by K.E. Gonsalves et al., J. Wiley & Sons Inc., 2008.
  3. Petrzhik M.I., Levashov E.A. Modern Methods for Investigating Functional Surfaces of Advanced Materials by Mechanical Contact Testing Crystallography Reports, 2007, Vol. 52, No. 6, pp. 966–974.

Peripheral Reading:

  1. Metallic Biometerial Interfaces, edited by J. Breme et al., Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. 2008.


Class participation20%
Homework assignments30%
Final exam50%